Council names Buford to Ward 1 position

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The Eureka Springs City Council appointed Tom Buford to its vacant Ward 1 seat Monday night.

Alderman Terry McClung nominated Buford for the position, but Mayor Butch Berry said the council should discuss how to appoint the new council member first. The council could take a vote by show of hands or ballot, Berry said. He said both Buford and Ken Pownall applied for the position.

Alderwoman Mickey Schneider said she didn’t want to vote by ballot, saying she would not sign a private ballot.

“If we’re going to sign our name, why are we using a ballot?” Schneider said. “We can just raise our hands.”

Berry passed out the ballots, and Schneider tore hers up before passing it to city clerk Ann Armstrong.

“I have refused before and I will always refuse, because it’s totally uncalled for when we can raise our hand and will know exactly how we voted,” Schneider said. “I’m sorry. I will not sign a ballot, period.”

Armstrong read the votes, saying Buford received all four votes. The council agreed to have a five-minute recess, and Buford was sworn in.

When the council returned to the table, alderwoman Melissa Greene moved to discuss changing the requirements for kenneling dogs. Greene recalled a recent problem on Council Street, where a property owner allegedly failed to feed and water his dogs. The dogs weren’t well-cared for, Greene said, and the property owner came into compliance after hearing from the animal control officer.

“The stench was unbearable, and the barking … no one should have to go through that,” Greene said. “Now there’s another one going on North Main Street where three dogs are in a shed that doesn’t meet the enclosure requirements.”

Alderwoman Kristi Kendrick asked if the city could deal with problems like this by referring to its nuisance policy.

“A nuisance is described as that which causes offense, annoyance or injury,” Kendrick said.

“The animal control officer was dealing with it,” Berry said. “He didn’t feel there was enough nuisance to issue any complaints.”

Kendrick said she wasn’t sure she understood the problem.

“At this point, the discussion is kenneling of the dogs, and I think that has been resolved,” Berry said.

The problem, Greene said, is how animals are being treated in the city.

“For me, it’s neglect and abuse of these animals. That’s my opinion,” Greene said.

Schneider said it’s not up to the council to legislate that.

“Everybody knows I prefer dogs and cats over people. Just because it’s not the way you would do it doesn’t make it wrong,” Schneider said. “It doesn’t mean you should write five million laws to do it your way.”

The police and animal control departments suggested some changes to the code, Schneider said. She moved to clean up the code using that input, and Berry asked her if she could get those changes in writing at the council’s next meeting. Schneider agreed to do so.

In other business, Berry said the council received a damage claim from Larry Burkett for a broken rearview mirror. Burkett had allegedly been driving on Mountain Street, Berry said, when a limb knocked down his side mirror.

“He went to say something to public works, and by the time public works had gotten up there, they had already trimmed all the limbs,” Berry said.

Berry told Burkett to bring the claim to the council, but Burkett wasn’t present at the meeting Monday night. Alderman Bob Thomas asked who trimmed the limbs, and Berry said it was public works. Berry said he wasn’t sure if it was a city-owned tree, and he didn’t know if Burkett knew to come to the meeting.

Schneider moved to defer the topic until Burkett was there, and everyone voted against it except McClung and Schneider. Greene asked Berry if the city has ever paid one of these claims.

“We’ve had in the past where we’ve been weed eating and we’ve busted somebody’s windshield or window,” Berry said. “We went ahead and paid it because it was obviously something public works had done.”

Greene moved to reconsider the vote to defer, and everyone voted yes except Kendrick. Schneider then moved to defer the topic until Burkett could address the council. Everyone voted yes except Kendrick.

The council’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 27, at The Aud.

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